FEATURE-Loved and loathed: Raising a gay child in the former Soviet Union

KIEV, Oct 17 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – It was the poems that gave it away. Heartfelt writings about a man’s love for a man and a woman’s love for a woman found on the family computer sent Olena Globa into a seething rage when she confronted her then-teenaged son about his sexuality.

“I sat down on the sofa next to him. I remember I was looking straight at the door, and I – very sharply, very angrily – asked him, ‘Are you a faggot?’” said Globa, sitting in her apartment in the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital Kiev.

It took eight years for Globa to accept her son’s sexuality, and the battle to overcome her prejudices set her on a new path: helping other Ukrainian families accept their gay children, too.

Homosexuality has been legal in Ukraine since 1991 with the authorities increasing their support for gay rights since a pro-Western government took power in 2014, and in 2015 passed a law banning workplace discrimination against the LGBT+ community.

But human rights group say many people in the former Soviet Union still find it hard to accept anyone being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT+) and homophobia is widespread. (more…)